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Mary Todd Lincoln 

Hospital Visits as First Lady 

Excerpts from newspapers and other sources 

From the files of the 
Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection 


To the Editor qf the ChicoQo Journal : 

Chicago, July 18.— The death of the widow 
of the Amerloan emancipator will cause a f eellnjf 
of sorrow and sadness all oyer the country, but it 
will be a cause of particular sorrow to the soldiers 
of the Army of the Potomac, who, when sick or 
wounded in the Wasbln^^ton hoapitals. were the 
objects of her especial care and attention. At the 
first battle of FrederioltsburK I received a painful 
wound in the face; the bullet ' splintered the 
jaw and knocked out half a dozen teeth. I 
was taken to the Armory-Square Hospital, 
at Washln/?ton, and Dr. Bliss, who attended Gen. 
Garneld. was the man who sayed my face from 
Utter dlsflicuroment Amonsr the ifiany who came 
to the hospital to speak coeeriof: words to the 
afflicted none were moro kind ur '»how«d a nobler 
spirit than the wife of ths chief ma^trate of the 
Nation. She called regularlr* brin^clntr with her, 
by attendants, flowers and deiicadea, and bestow- 
InfT thorn with her own band. with ja rraca worthy of 
the station she held. The oyde oT time 1« ended 
with her. . She iif at rest with he? soirQW^ but 
, though dead she still liyee in the meinonr of tboee 
whose afiDzUea she soothfid.with .lOTlnir words. ■•. 

Bulletin of the Lincoln National Ldfe Foundation - " Dr. Louis A. Warren, Editor 

Published each week by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana 

Number 683 FORT WAYNE, INDIANA May 11, 1942 


In the little personal notes that passed between 
Abraham Lincoln and his wife during the White House 
days, he often addressed her as "mother." It is to be 
regretted that she has not been allowed to occupy this 
reverent role in the thinking of the American people, 
but possibly in the atmosphere of "Mother's Day" her 
most ardent critics will not begrudge her this brief 

There seems to have been few attempts to gather and 
emphasize some of the commendable things that Mary 
Lincoln did, and it was refreshing, indeed, to come 
across a brief personal reminiscence of her by Howard 
Glyndon appearing in The Independent for August 10, 
1882. He writes: 

"She was very generous to the sick soldiers in camp 
and in the hospitals around Washington. I remember 
many of her voluntary and unsolicited deeds of kindness, 
and she visited the camps and hospitals frequently. 
These were not the things which it suited the conven- 
ience of her defamers to have a cognizance of, or to 
allow to go on record. I am ashamed that today nothing 
of Mary Lincoln's goodness of heart in this respect nor 
the sums of money spent by her and by Mr. Lincoln for 
the sick and suffering during the war is remembered or 
spoken of." 

A more important reference to Mrs. Lincohi's motherly 
attitude toward the soldiers is told in a story released 
in the Chicago Times Herald in June 1897. A reporter 
interviewed James H. Agen, a Civil War soldier, and 
learned that he had in his possession a valuable letter 
written to his mother. Upon being questioned for more 
detail about the letter Mr. Agen told the following story : 

"Let me tell you a story before answering your double 
question : In 1864, while following Grant near Riclimond, 
and when we had come so close to it that they could 
hear our muskets, and we their church bells, I was stricken 
with a fever and sent to hospital. In time they landed 
me, more dead than alive, in one of the great hospitals 
at Washington. I was a very sick boy. Boy is right, for 
that -was all I was — sweet 16, as a girl of that age v>-ould 
be. For three Aveeks I had no ambition to live. 

"One day, after I had passed the danger point, and 
was taking a little notice of what was going on, a number 
of ladies came through the hospital. They had baskets 
containing delicacies and bouquets of beautiful flowers. 
One of them stopped at each cot as they passed along. A 
bunch of blossoms was handed to each sick or wounded 
soldier, and if he desired it a delicacy of some kind was 
also distributed. Every now and then one of the women 
sat in a camp chair and wrote a letter for the poor fellow 
who hadn't the strength to write himself. 

"I wanted nothing to eat or drink, but those pretty 
posies held my attention. One of the ladies stopped at 
my cot. I hadn't yet got my full growth, and in my 
then emaciated, pale condition I must have looked like 
a child. She seemed surprised as she looked at me. 

" 'You poor child, what brought you here?' 

" 'They sent me here from the Army of the Potomac' 

" 'But you are not a soldier?' 

" 'Yes, madam. I belong to a New York regiment. The 
surgeon here has the record.' 

" 'Can I do anything for you? Can you eat something 
or take a swallow of wine?' 

" 'I'm not hungry or thirsty.' 

" 'Can I write a letter for you?' 

" 'Not to-day. I'm too weak.' 

" 'Then I will leave some of these flowers v/ith you. 
President Lincoln helped to cull them. I will come again 
in two or three days. Keep up your courage. You are 
going to get well. You must get well.' 

"She was the first woman who had spoken to me since 
I had reached the army. Looking at the sweet flowers 
which Mr. Lincoln had 'helped to cull,' and thinking of 
the dear woman who had spoken so kindly and hopefully 
had m.ore effect in brightening my spirits than all else 
that had occurred in the hospital. 

"Three days later the same lady came again, and 
direct to my cot. 

" 'How is my little soldier boy to-day?' she asked in a 
way so motherly that it reminded me of my good mother 
back in New York, the patriot mother who had given 
her consent to my going to the war after praying over 
the matter many times. The hospital angel — that 
was what we learned to call those noble v\'omen — after 
giving me a taste of chicken and jelly, asked me if I had 
a mother. She saw by the tears in my eyes that I had. 

" 'Now we will write mother a letter.' 

"Then she sat by my side and v;rote the letter. I hadn't 
been able to write for a month. 

" 'I have told your mother that I am near her soldier 
boy and have talked with him. What shall I tell her for 
you? That you are still too weak to write yourself?' 

" 'Please don't tell her that. It will make her worry. 
Tell her I am fast getting well.' 

"The first day I got home my mother aslced me how I 
liked Mrs. Lincoln, the President's wife. 

" 'I never met Mrs. Lincoln. What made you think 
I had?' 

"Then she took from a box closely guarded in an old 
bureau a letter. It read like this: 

" 'Dear Mrs. Agen : I am sitting by the side of your sol- 
dier boy. He has been quite sick, but is getting well. He 
tells me to say to you that he is all right. With respect 
for the mother of the young soldier. 

" 'Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.' 

"That was the first that I knew that it was the Presi- 
dent's wife who had made me those two visits. I begged 
my mother to give me the letter. 'You can have it when 
I am gone.' When she died, a box and an old letter folded 
in a silk handkerchief were among her gifts to me. 

"The box, kerchief and letter will pass along the Agen 
line as mementos too sacied for everyday display." 



statement appears in Lincoln Lore, Number 1579, Sep- 
tember, 1969, Lincoln's Law Offices In The Tinsley 
Building- 1843-1852: "When one attempts to define the 
precise location of the Lincoln-Herndon law office during 
the entire period of the firm's existence, there is some 
confusion. This is due to the fact that several . . . issues 
of the Illinois State Journal are missing which would 
have shown a change, if they had moved, in their busi- 
ness card." 

Even the Micro Photo Division of Bell & Howell, who 
have micro film of the Illinois State Journal from June 
16, 1848, to December 30, 1865, (35 reels) available for 
sale, advises its prospective customers that missing 
from the files are the numbers from September 14, 1843, 
through December and June 20-30, 1855, and July 1-9, of 
the same year. 

Editor's Note: For a more complete description of the files of the 
Illinois State Journal, consult the publication titled. "Newspapers in 
the Illinois State Historical Library," edited by Vi^illiam E. Keller, 
reprinted from Illinois Libraries, June, 1970, by the Illinois State 
Historical Library, page 543. 

(A Good Investment) 

On October 25, 1967, Abraham Lincoln's Official Seal 
of the United States sold for $12,000. It was a part of 
the Justin G. Turner collection sold at the Charles Ham- 
ilton Auction (see catalogue No. 22) at the Waldorf 
Astoria. The seal was used by Lincoln while president. 

The item is described as follows: "the seal %" in 
diameter and inscribed in brass, mounted on a carved 
ivory handle (age yellowed and with a few tiny cracks), 
bearing a circular design on its top. The overall height 
is about 31/4". Contained in a special folding case made 
by Atmore Beach of brown morocco with inner linings 
of beige moire silk, gilt stamped on spine, 'Abraham 
Lincoln's Presidential Seal,' and on front cover, 'Justin 
G. Turner Collection.' " The pre-sale estimated value of 
the relic was $2,000. 

The seal had previously been sold by the Parke-Bernet 
Galleries, Inc. on February 19-20, 1952, at the time of 
the disposition of the collection of the late Oliver R. 

Two different views of Lincoln's official seal which, if price 
existence today. 

Barrett, of Chicago, Illinois. The item listed as Number 
284 on page 122 of the sale catalogue gives the following 
description: "Seal of the United States used by Abraham 
Lincoln while President, ivory handle with brass seal. 
Height 31/4 inches. With card inscribed: 'Seal used by 
Abraham Lincoln when President. W. H. Crook'. Accom- 
panying is a printed invitation of Mr and Mrs Abraham 
Lincoln to 'Mrs. Goddard' in an envelope, with a wax 
impression of the above seal. The envelope is defective. 
Illustrated in Sandburg, Lincoln Collector, facing p. 145." 

The Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc. did not estimate the 
value of the various items offered for sale, which appears 
to be no longer the practice of most auction houses. The 
seal sold for $650. 

Thus the purchaser of the relic at the Barrett sale 
realized a 1746% gain on his investment. Perhans the 
same can be said of the estate of the late Anna Thomp- 
son Dodge, who sold through Christie's on June 24, 
1971, a French 18th century writing table for $415,800. 

Mrs. Lincoln Among The Sick And Wounded 

Among the many ladies who visit our sick soldiers 
with cheerful words and offices, none are more inde- 
fatigable than Mrs. Lincoln. She, yesterday, visited the 
Odd Fellows Hall Hospital, Navy Yard, much to the 
gratification of the sufferers there, and kindly admin- 
istered to their wants in various ways — bestowing 
gifts, kind words and, among others, Mrs. Lincoln 
visited the bedside of one old soldier, over sixty years of 
age, who had expressed a desire to see her. After some 
conversation, she bestowed upon the old soldier a hand- 
some donation. Her visit will long be remembered by 
the invalids. 

Washi7igt07i Star 
August 29, 1862 

Note: On Au.crust 12, 1862, Mrs. Lincoln received from a Boston 
merchant a donation of .$1,000 for relief work in military hospitals. 
On August 16. 1862, a request was made of Hiram Barney to buy 
$200 worth of lemons and $100 worth of oranfres for Mrs. Lincoln to 
distribute to hospitals. Lincoln Day By Day - A Chronology 1809-1865, 
Volume III: 1861-1865, pases 138-134. 

From the Lincoln National Life, Foundation 
an index, must be one of the most valuable Lincoln relics in 

The pictures are arranged chronologically around 
Homer's works engraved for "Harper's Weekly," 
the leading illustrated review of that time. A brief 
apprenticeship with a Boston lithographer and a 
few art lessons in New York Cit>- had been the 
extent of his formal art training, butatage 21 hewas 
already being published by "Harper's" as well as 
other pictorial media. He covered Lincoln's 
inauguration for the magazine and when hostilities 
between the North and South broke out, he was sent 
to the front as its "special artist." 

During the ne.xt four years the battleground 
became both his school and his studio. At first he 
thrilled to the drama and heroism of battle, depict- 
ing what he saw with remarkable realism, butas the 
v\'ar dragged on, he recoiled from the scenes of 
death and turned to life among the men in camp, 
with its moments of humor, camaraderie and 

Homer's art brought the look and feel of the war 
home to his countr>-men. Although he accompanied 
the Union Army and presented the war from the 
Northern viewpoint, he fully saw the tragedy in civil 
warfare and honestly portrayed both victor and 
vanquished with the same compassion and dignity-. 

The 198 reproductions of Winslow Homer's Civil 
War art show his extraordinar>- skill with pencil, 
brush and engraving tools. The oil, "Pitching Horse- 
shoes," showing Zouaves at play in camp, is Homer 
at his best in technique and coloring. His pencil 
sketches of men in motion are particularly realistic 
and one can almost feel the anxiety and tenseness 
that must have been the lot of ever\- soldier. 

This is a superb book, capably edited, and it is a 
fine addition to Ci^■i] War bibliography. 

—Allan McMahan 

Fort Wa\-ne Journal Gazette 

January 5, 1975 

An Eyewitness Account o 
Mrs. Lincoln To Campbell 

On many occasions President 
Abraham Lincoln and Mrs. Lincoln 
visited the sick and wounded soldiers in 
Washington, D.C. hospitals. One such 
visit was to the Campbell Hospital in the 
capitolcity. The date was May 29, 1864. It 
was Dr. Darius Orton, a Federal Army 
surgeon in charge of one of theCampbell 
Hospital wards, who recorded the events 
of the presidential visit in his personal 
journal. Even though this visit is not 
mentioned in Lincoln Day By Day - A 
Chronology, Vol. Ill, 1861-1864, the hand 
written record of Dr. Orton (pages 68-69) 
leaves no doubt as to the accuracy of the 

While a hospital visit is of no great 
historical significance, all eye-witness 
accounts of Lincoln's activities during his 
presidency are of importance to students. 

The medical journal of Dr. Orton has 
recently been acquired by Norm 
Flayderman of New Milford, Connecti- 
cut, who has kindly given permission to 
the editors of the Lincoln Herald to 
publish the information on those pages 
relative to the Lincolns. 

With considerable difficulty, the 
facsimile pages of the journal have been 

EDrroR's .Note: The editor is indebted to Donald C. 
Chambers, M.D. of the Medical Department of the 
Lincoln .National Life Insurance Company for his 
help in transcribing the manuscript. 

f a Visit By President and 
Hospital, Washington, D.C. 

transcribed with some omissions, 
particularly those words relative to 
medical terms. 

George L. Chase, Pr. Co D . 36th Mass. \'ols. Regt. 
•Admitted .May 27, 1864. Description of wound - 
Gunshot woundof RightKnee- received in action 
at Wilderness, May 6, 1864. Operation per- 
formed May 29th in Campbell Hospital - By Dr. 
Sheldon Surg, in charge - When this patient was 
admitted he sho\\'ed every symptom of recovers' 

- the knee joint was not opened - and it was not 
until several days had passed that erv sipilas set in 
and inflamed the joint to such a degree that 
amputation was certainly indicated - The 
amputation was performed - and 1 had just 
brought him in from the operating room - when 
Mr. and .Mrs. Lincoln came through the Hospital. 
They came into my ward just as he was recover- 
ing from the effects of the anesthetic when she 
came along where he lay - she took him by the 
hand and the Dr. toldhun that it was Mrs. Lincoln 

- he cried out how do > ou do Mrs. Lincoln - Oh! I 
am so glad to see >-ou - she petted the poor boy a 
few moments - gave him a bouquet of flowers - 
Uncle Abe took him b>- the hand - bid him good 
b\ e and left - he ne% er rallied from the shock - or 
at least only partialK-. The Knee when amputated 
was ver>' badly swollen - painful. None of us had 
much hope for a recovers . The treatment was 
good diet . . . Iron . . . and plenty of good Beef 
ele.xir. Sodium was painted on the limb but to no 
usehesank gradualK- and died from Pyemia, June 
17, 1864. 

I made a post mortem Examination after death 
and found large absesses in various parts of the 
body and also the sup (superior) lobe of the Left 
Lung filled with Tubercule in the 2 degree of 
softening - the other organs were normal. 




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